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UK Scientists Call for Better Testing of GM Foods

LONDON - A report by Britain's Royal Society of leading scientists finds that testing of genetically modified (GM) crops needs improvement, Reuters reports. The scientists say regulations for GM products aren?t clear enough, and there are significant gaps and inconsistencies between countries.

The report assessed all the scientific evidence available since 1998 on GM plants, whose genes have typically been engineered to enhance such attributes as resistance to pests or herbicide.

The scientists are particularly concerned about GM ingredients that are added to infant formula, because babies are very vulnerable to changes in the nutritional content of their diet.

While new drugs undergo years of rigorous tests on animals and humans before they are approved for general use, the safety of GM plants is determined by a looser measure known as "substantial equivalence," showing a genetically modified plant is chemically similar to its natural equivalent.

The scientists propose new genetic screening techniques that will detect very subtle differences between GM and natural foods. They also recommend screening of all new foods for allergic reactions, including risks from inhaling.
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